Old stories abound about a murder that took place on the west side of Waseosa. The location has been variously given as the Solave farm (the site of present-day Camp Huronda) or the Edwards home. There are varying recollections about the heinous details, even as to how many people were involved. Well, lo and behold, there were two separate incidents in our "quiet" little community! The first was a double murder, the second a murder/suicide. Time has blended the details as the stories have been passed down, but the Edwards incident actually came second.
Local Historian Karen McAuley-Smith provides us with details of the first, at the Solave farm. This extract is reproduced with permission from her book "Ravenscliffe & its Early Settlers":
MURDER IN CHAFFEY TOWNSHIP
On Tuesday, December 13, 1921 Andrew Solave and George Weathers went to the bush to cut wood. Andrew Solave and his wife Lena had lived on their farm on Lot 10 Concession 10 of Chaffey Township for only three years. The farm was located on the property now owned by Camp Huronda on Lake Waseosa, then referred to as Long Lake. Mrs. Solave, who was born Helena Mychk about 1880 in Poland, remained home while her husband went off to work. Andrew and Lena had one child, a son, John Solave, who had been born in 1901. John lived in the southern Ontario where he was employed as a locomotive fireman.
While working away in the bush Andrew and George were approached by a neighbour who lived not far from the Solave farm. His name was George Cyr and he had only moved to the neighbourhood six months prior with his family. George Cyr was born in New York State in 1895 and had lived in Hamilton, Ontario, where he was a cigar-maker, before coming to Muskoka. Mr. Cyr lived in a small home with his wife, his parents, his sister and her husband Robert Mulvaney and a Mr. and Mrs. Whitfield, friends of the Cyr family. George Cyr talked briefly with the two wood-cutters and then left, presumably returning home.
About half an hour later, Solave and Weathers returned to the Solave home and upon entering the house found George Cyr already inside the home. Cyr held a revolver and began to fire at the two men. His first bullet struck one of Mr. Solave's buttons and was deflected from his chest. The second shot hit Mr. Solave in the arm and Mr. Solave then ran out of the house to take cover in the woods. Mr. Solave ran to the home of his neighbours Silas Chisholm, Archie Newlove and Jefferson Clark warning them of the events that had just taken place. George Weathers was also shot; he received two superficial wounds to his head and had a bullet enter his abdomen. Weathers then too ran out of the house to escape further injury. George made it to the Solave barn and hid in the hayloft for hours until he came to and heard the familiar voices of the search party of neighbours who had been looking for him.
Mrs. Solave's body had been found by this time in an upstairs room, dead from a gunshot wound to the back. It was presumed that George Cyr had thought the home was empty and had entered it with the intention of robbing the family.
A seriously injured George Weathers was taken to the nearby home of Silas Chisholm where his wounds were treated and he was interviewed by the authorities. After the interview, Chief Wm. Keating and Constable Chas. Olaveson brought Cyr to the Chisholm home for Messrs. Weathers and Solave to identify. They both confirmed that George Cyr was indeed their assailant and Cyr was taken to the Huntsville jail. Cyr's parents were also interviewed and they insisted that their son could not have done such a thing, he had always been a good boy and he had a weak heart as a result of being gassed while overseas during the First World War.
The following afternoon, a coroner's inquest was held at the home of Silas Chisholm. The jury consisted of: Jefferson Clarke, foreman; W. Bielby, Al May, T. Armishaw, Silas Chisholm, Alex Jamieson, and W.H. Eastman. Evidence was heard from the two injured men and the jury viewed the body of Mrs. Solave, prior to it being taken to Huntsville by J.J. Bailey, the undertaker who would conduct the post mortem examination. The inquest was then adjourned to meet the following week.
On Saturday, December 17, 1921 about 8 p.m. George Weathers passed away at the home of Silas Chisholm. George Cyr faced two charges of murder and one of shooting with the intent to kill. He was defended by Redmond Thomas. On the first charge of the murder of George Weathers, the jury deliberated for three hours and then returned with a guilty verdict. The automatic penalty was death, so the other charges never went to trial. George Cyr, 27 years old, was hanged in the early morning of May 17, 1922 in the yard of the old District Jail in Bracebridge. Nobody claimed his body to take it for burial so it was placed in a rough-box and the rest of the box was filled with quicklime. He was buried in the southeast corner of the old jail yard.
The scene of the second incident was just up South Waseosa Lake Road, towards Huntsville near the end of Muskoka Glens Road and across the road from the Solway farm. (The similarity of "Solway farm" and "Solave farm" may have contributed to the melding of these two incidents). The house is no longer there and Mr. Edwards is no relation to the Edwards family that now lives in our area. There was no arrest or trial: it was a murder-suicide and Mr. Alfred Walter Edwards, 54, who was estranged from his wife Doris, killed himself after killing his second eldest daughter, Shirley, 19, at approximately 5:30 pm on January 18, 1953. Shirley lived in Huntsville, but was visiting her father's home on the fateful day.
Three younger siblings, who still lived with their father, were at home at the time. After the first shot was heard, their father told one to go across the road and telephone for the police. The second shot was heard as they reached the gate.
Bill Solway took the children with him to drive into Town to notify the police, as there were no telephones in the area at that time. A Very tragic tale.